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Irish hope to end season with win

Matt Mooney | Friday, February 20, 2004

Season finales are rarely more anticlimactic than this one.

The Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing team will cruise into West Lafayette on Saturday as the only ranked team in the West vs. Central Dual meet. The Irish will face teams all hailing from the Midwest, including Michigan, Michigan State, University of Chicago, Wisconsin, Detroit-Mercy and host Purdue.

Notre Dame will have a relatively easy fencing weekend for the first time all year. After weathering all but one of the tempests brought on by numerous top 10 opponents (six for the women, seven for the men), the absence of a top school gives coach Janusz Bednarski plenty of room to breath.

“We are expecting a bit weaker teams,” he said. “We went through the giants already [so] I don’t expect that we’ll lose.”

Matches that the Irish expect to win allows for many of the backups to get the bout experience necessary for them to earn a monogram. While the starters may begin the matches, the subs will likely enter as soon as the clinching 14th victory has been secured. Senior foilist Derek Snyder feels that this is the chance for the walk-ons to get some deserved recognition.

“They are as much a part of the team as anyone else,” he said. “They can definitely take care of their own business this weekend and do really well.”

The West vs. Central meet equates to the calm before the storm of the impending postseason. However, Bednarski feels any competition whether strong or weak serves as valuable experience.

“I expect tough bouting and confirmation that the team is strong enough to be one of the top teams in the Midwest,” he said.

The freshmen can already feel the sense of urgency to begin the defense of the team’s national title.

“I’m nervous that I might not qualify for the NCAA’s because I know that we need to qualify 12 to win, and I don’t like that pressure,” freshman epeeist Amy Orlando said.

However, she feels prepared, pressure or no pressure.

“I’ve been in training and going to individual competitions, but I’m ready,” she said. “Purdue is also just a good warm up for Penn State.”

Saturday will close another successful regular season as the Irish fencing teams combined for only one dual loss all year. The top-ranked women’s team will look to clinch their first undefeated regular season since the 1994-95 season. Adding to the record books, the women will also try and stretch their streak of consecutive dual match victories. Their current mark stands at 34 matches which is good enough for fifth best all time in school history.

Despite suffering only one loss all season, Snyder says the men’s team still has a bitter taste left in their mouths.

“I’m disappointed still about dropping that one match to ruin our streak, but everybody buckled down and started working harder,” he said.

St. John’s dethroned Notre Dame from the top spot in the polls and Snyder is already looking to the post-season for redemption.

“When I lose to someone before I go into the NCAAs it just makes me want to beat them more. I want to get revenge. The whole team is looking forward to upsetting St. John’s,” Snyder said.

After their season ending dual meet, the Irish will not fence again until the Midwest Fencing Conference Champ-ionships beginning March 6 at the Joyce Center.